It was a pleasure to read Dr. Hogenson's remarks as well as Dr. Bernardi's responses.
I appreciate the reminder that the failed controversies of contemporary psychoanalysis reprise the early one between Freud and Jung and that some of the same issues remain at stake.
There is no doubt that analysts continue to argue about the primacy of affects vs. words. It's surely a peculiar fight in general--and especially with regard to dreams, given that Freud himself said that the affect in dreams was undisguised and as such a reliable way in.
Like Dr. Bernardi, I prefer to think of psychoanalysis as complex rather than as a hybrid. "Complex" derives from Latin "plectere"--to braid or weave together-- whereas "hybrid" come from Greek "hubrida" meaning mongrel. Perhaps at our best, we are complex. Psychoanalysis seems to me more like a mongrel-- an odd and often ungainly mix--when it tries to look like its natural science neighbors. This is no doubt an area where I will disagree with my Therip interlocutors, and perhaps with most other analysts. The use of natural science language has always seemed a bit forced and defensive. I admit my position stems from the trauma of having studied psychology for a decade in the U.S. where it is reduced to what students call "rats and stats." A wall was put up in the early 60s between social science and the humanities here, and students with questions about desire, fantasy, subjectivity, were invited to self-deport to the English department. When I was in graduate school, our token analytic professor spent his days devising questionnaires that would test Freud's theory of repression.
These days, analysts borrow more impressive technology, such as the beloved brain scan. Some are excited to have found male and female brains, homosexual and heterosexual brains, and even a psychopathic brain--something that has garnered attention here since a gunman killed a classroom of 6-year-olds last week. I don't know what this kind of data offer except a means of propping up belief in the otherness of the other.
It's true that research on treatment outcomes has been favorable to psychoanalysis in the past few years (e.g. the meta-analysis by Leichsenring & Rabung in JAMA). Perhaps this research will be politically useful; I hope it is. But if statistical wizards had not been able to show the value of psychoanalytic therapy at the .05 level, what would we clinicians be doing differently with our patients?
I think of psychoanalysis as a hermeneutic and a healing art. With regard to Freud's penchant for claiming or aspiring to a psychoanalytic science, it is perhaps unfortunate that he refused to read Nietzsche who wrote famously: "Against those who call for 'just the facts' I say: There are no facts; there are only theories."
Speaking of Nietzsche, I would endorse psychoanalysis as a science in his sense of a "Froehliche Wissenschaft"--la gaya scienza.
We can probably agree that that the analysts involved in the Rio de la Plata conference, the Anna Freud/ Klein controversy and the Freud-Jung debates were not able to "make the truth laugh."
By the way, I enjoyed Dr. Bernardi's comment that--contrary to my characterization of his argument as a "fear of the primal scene" of debate, he was more concerned about the "frottage" which is more typical of professional discussion-- and which never leads to something new.
Perhaps we'll do better in London.
Yours in holiday haste, but with warm wishes for the new year.